Here’s what South Africans really wanted to know from Google in 2019

Here’s what South Africans really wanted to know from Google in 2019

December must be a fun time for Google, because that’s when the company gets to take stock of a year’s worth of search data and identify the queries and events that interested people the most. This year’s results once again proved that there’s no such thing as a silly question. Or is there? You decide for yourself after reading Google’s Year In Review report

From discovering interesting facts and learning new skills to finding a nearby business and the latest celebrity obsessions, Google truly is the answer to all questions, especially the ones people are too embarrassed to ask their parents, best friend, coworker, or some stranger on the street. The latest results not only offer insights into the curious minds of South Africans but also highlight the year’s biggest events that have captured their attention. 

Those hoping to see news makers such as the royal tour to South Africa, the KFC proposal, and the world’s second sexiest accent, Afrikaans, on the list, will be disappointed because as it turns out South Africans were more interested in the quirky origin of their breakfast cereal. Ironically, everyone’s least favourite words “load shedding” was the most popular phrase this year. In bidding (pun intended) adieu to the decade, Google also recapped the top searches between 2010 and 2019, with load shedding and Corn Flakes featuring prominently over the last ten years. 

Check out the top searches for the year and decade below. 

 

Top trending questions

  1. Why were cornflakes invented?
  2. What time is the rugby world cup final?
  3. How many votes for a seat in parliament
  4. How did Cameron Boyce die?
  5. How long is a rugby match?
  6. What is Bosasa?
  7. What time do voting stations open?
  8. Who won the election in South Africa?
  9. What is media?
  10. What is teenage pregnancy?

Top trending questions of the decade

  1. How to make slime?
  2. Why were cornflakes invented?
  3. How to get rid of belly fat?
  4. How to lose weight in 3 days?
  5. Where am I?
  6. How many weeks in a year?
  7. How to create an email?
  8. How to grow hair fast?
  9. What is depression?
  10. How to draw eyebrows?

Top ten trending searches

  1. Load shedding
  2. Election results
  3. Thanos
  4. IEC
  5. Fiona Viotti
  6. Black Friday Specials
  7. Gavin Watson
  8. Mark Batchelor
  9. Teacher’s Day
  10. Hoërskoel Driehoek

 

Top trending searches of the decade

  1. Load shedding
  2. Uzalo
  3. Meghan Markle
  4. Zodwa Wabantu
  5. Baby Shark
  6. Cardi B
  7. Game of Thrones
  8. Thanos
  9. Nicki Minaj
  10. Amapiano

 

Top ‘near me’ searches

  1. Job openings near me
  2. Parks near me
  3. Restaurant near me
  4. McDonald’s near me
  5. Hotels near me
  6. Hair Salon near me
  7. Voting Station near me
  8. Petrol station near me
  9. Makro near me
  10. Woolworths near me

Top trending South African personalities

  1. Neyi Zimu
  2. James Small
  3. Xolani Gwala
  4. Chester Williams
  5. Andile Gumbe
  6. Siya Kolisi
  7. David Kekana
  8. Faf De Klerk
  9. Peggy Sue Khumalo
  10. Robert Marawa

Top trending sports searches

  1. Rugby World Cup
  2. Cricket World Cup
  3. India vs South Africa
  4. Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates
  5. Afcon
  6. Bafana Bafana
  7. Cricket live scores
  8. Proteas
  9. PSL Standings
  10. Stellenbosch vs Kaizer Chiefs

 

Top trending movies searches

  1. Avengers Endgame
  2. Captain Marvel
  3. When They See Us
  4. Aquaman
  5. Lion King
  6. John Wick 3
  7. Joker
  8. Hustlers
  9. Birdbox
  10. A Star is Born

Top trending music personalities

  1. Johnny Clegg
  2. Thami Shobede
  3. Nipsey Hussle
  4. Mampintsha
  5. Oliver Mtukudzi
  6. Nichume
  7. Ndlovu Youth Choir
  8. Babes Wodumo
  9. Pitch Black Afro
  10. Kabza de Small

More than 40 000 search queries are submitted to Google every second. This equals to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. “This year’s trending searches show South Africans’ keen interest in the world and people around them. Pop culture, sports and politics captured the nation’s attention. Nine of the 10 top trending search terms were for local people, news and events,” Google commented on this year’s results. 

 

Four ways search ads can benefit your SEO

Four ways search ads can benefit your SEO

Digital marketing is a multifaceted industry, whose various practices have been put in place in order to ensure a brand’s online presence is expanded and ultimately accessible to a substantial and loyal customer base. Two of its most notable tools are Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC). These channels belong to the respective spheres of Earned Media and Paid Media, but that’s not to say they aren’t compatible with each other. In fact, PPC can prove to be extremely beneficial when it is integrated with SEO practices. Here are four reasons why.

  1. Valuable Keywords

Keywords are an important aspect of any PPC campaign or SEO strategy. No matter which of these channels you’re using to help your brand appear more prominently on Google, you still need to do a significant amount of thorough keyword research. But SEO and PPC do differ in terms of how quickly results show. While the former takes some time, the latter is almost immediate in how it reveals which keywords will work and which will not.

The benefit here is that the data you’ve acquired from your PPC practices can contribute towards your SEO campaign. You’ll have a better idea of what web users are searching for and what keywords they are using, and your SEO strategy will be more effective as a result.

 

  1. Remarketing

Imagine a scenario in which your brand’s website is attracting a substantial number of visitors and it’s all down to your brilliant SEO strategy. That being said, these visitors merely browse your website and leave it before making a purchase. That is not the desired outcome of directing a web user to your site. Your want their final action to be a purchase, and you can make this happen with some help from PPC.

Basically, PPC will offer you the chance to do some remarketing. While your SEO practices have made an impression on your prospective customers, the Pay-Per-Click advertisements you have created can build on that impression, leading customers beyond the browsing stage. Your brand’s products and services will already be in the mind of the customer and a well-placed advertisement has the chance to drive that customer back to your website, where the desired action will be completed. Thanks to the help of PPC, a purchase just might be made.

 

  1. Smarter Decisions

SEO and PPC campaigns can often share the same metrics, from conversion and click through rates to bounce and exit rates and the time a prospective customer spends on a website. You can therefore combine data from both these channels, using it to make well-informed decisions for your brand. You’ll be able to ascertain which of your keywords are merely generating traffic to your website and which are able to generate sales. Added to that, after analysing these metrics, you’ll be more able to determine which visitors to your website are interested in making a purchase and which aren’t. With all this information you’ll be able to make better decisions regarding your SEO.

 

  1. More Local Leads

If your brand is location-specific you’ll want people in the immediate vicinity to come across it when they Google products and services related to your brand. That’s why you should use PPC ads for local searches, as these will help increase the number of local leads to your website. Properly optimised ads will appear on Google searches, while a good SEO strategy will ensure your site shows up on the first Google search page. PPC will therefore improve your presence on Google.

 

PPC and SEO might represent two different sides of digital marketing, but they work well together. The proper use of PPC practices can easily enhance the benefits of a well-formulated SEO strategy.

Digital Performance of the Automotive Industry

Digital Performance of the Automotive Industry

The South African automotive industry is among those most frequently impacted by the smallest conditional shifts within the country. When things are going well, consumers have more money to buy locally manufactured vehicles and when Eskom lets the lights go out manufacturing can grind to a halt. The commercialisation of electric vehicle technology in South Africa is also going to have a long-term impact on the performance of several local plants.

While local sales have slumped in recent years due to the economic crunch felt by consumers, good news has recently given new hope to the export half of the market with businesslive.co.za reporting “a potential R60bn could be invested by SA’s vehicle manufacturers and component makers in the next five years” and businesstech.co.za reporting that “South Africa on track for record vehicle exports”. But will this be enough to make up for the shortfall in local sales which shows few signs of improvement?

The motor industry as a whole is suffering from a poor global economy and tariffs dispute between America and China with potential extension of that market unrest between America, the EU and Mexico (where several major manufacturers operate out of to cut labour costs). Manufacturers operating out of South Africa specifically have concerns regarding the country’s stability and the poor economic spending power of consumers as well as power grid stability. 

To counteract slumping in-store sales car manufacturers and their dealers are turning increasingly to a more cost effective form of marketing to try and get the message across that in a tight economy, their brand has the best solution. Some in the industry have relied on attractive websites and existing brand strength, such as Volkswagen and Honda, limiting their search and display advertising to smaller budgets and simple banners. 

This Spartan approach to their online marketing would likely only work for them. As two of the most popular local brands (along with Toyota and Nissan) they can rely on most car buying South Africans to search for their brands by name if they don’t see an ad to click on. Due to the sheer volume of their vehicles in the country entering the used car market, exposure is also a key element and it’s not one that their competitors can counter with passivity. 

It can be said of most South African divisions of large manufacturers however that many have been caught like a bunny in the headlights when it comes to digital marketing. Traffic and engagement remain unfalteringly low for all but the already established brands. 

 

Let’s Look at Some Examples

Below we have some comparative traffic numbers for Honda, the now discontinued Chrysler, Fiat, VW and Volvo over the period of a year. Honda, despite some highs and lows retains a relatively stable average over the course of a year. VW appears as a somewhat distant but relatively stable second while Fiat and Volvo perform little to no better than the abandoned Chrysler website.

 

 

Mixing it up a little below it’s apparent that those with the lower brand recognition who don’t pursue a strong online marketing presence also perform on par with Chrysler. Renault stands out but Subaru, Kia and Peugeot are nowhere to be found. Renault’s slight bump here is likely due in some part to their display advertising. Renault, in general, appears to focus more on paid marketing tactics such as search and display than their ‘on tier’ competitors and it’s working for them. 

 

 

On the other hand their marketing budget doesn’t appear to be that high which means that were a competitor to dedicate a real effort to their own online campaign Renault could quickly find itself losing this narrow margin. Below we get a further indication of paid media spend and effectiveness, with Peugeot, Fiat and Subaru with little to show for whatever efforts they may be putting into a digital strategy. It’s worth noting once more though that even though Kia and Renault are performing better, the degree to which they’re doing so is tenuous.

 

 

Zooming in on the ‘all traffic’ window again over Jun 2018 – May 2019 we get a clearer picture of Renault’s complete performance against same tier competitors. 

 

 

So what are Subaru, Peugeot and Fiat doing wrong? 

 

For one thing, although Fiat does some display advertising, Subaru and Peugeot do little to none and their search campaigns are limited to the degree where it becomes difficult to ascertain their actual scope. Subaru, Peugeot and Fiat have nice looking websites with varying degrees of emphasis on user experience. Fiat’s is very user-friend but has little to no content onsite in which to place critical keywords or run search ads to. 

Peugeot’s site is not particularly pretty and gives an impression of being a financial or money lending site at first glance. While it’s easy enough to find the car model you might be looking for more information on there’s little more than technical specs once you get to the car’s page. The site doesn’t do anything to tell the browser what that particular model excels at, what it’s known for or why they should care. 

Subaru has a nice looking website that’s quite user-friendly and even has a news section for posting content. Part of their trouble is that they don’t. Publications are infrequent and far from optomised for online searches. They dropped a lot of content in June and a single article in September with nothing else to show for the year on their News page. 

 

The link to real sales

 

While there are many causes for poor sales numbers to consider there’s a clear pattern here as well. 

 

According to the sales figures from NUMSA the same manufacturers not engaging in digital promotion are seeing lagging sales figures while those who already enjoy powerful brand recognition such as Toyota, VW and Nissan take the lions share of the market. For the lesser known brands to make it in South Africa they need to create an image, claim a niche in the public’s eye and this isn’t something that happens on it’s own. 

 

Google’s move to mobile-first indexing

Google’s move to mobile-first indexing

Mobile-first indexing might be a foreign term to you. In fact, it’s a particularly new concept for a lot of us because it hasn’t been rolled out in its entirety yet, and in turn, become a little confusing. Google’s index has always prioritised a website’s desktop version, but as mobile became increasingly more popular, Google announced in 2016 that it would begin tests to base its rankings on the mobile version of a site. 

Today, if a website has both a desktop and a mobile version, Google will choose to crawl and index the mobile version. This has a number of repercussions for website owners, who might or might not understand the full extent of the change.

If you’re wondering what Google’s timelines are with this rollout, there aren’t any exact dates in place. While testing began in 2016, and roll out has been full steam ahead since, not all websites have been changed over to mobile-first testing. With 51% of all South Africans owners of smartphones, and the global average at 59%, it’s no doubt that Google are eager to get it rolled out as soon as possible. As of December 2018, over half all pages shown in the search results were indexed on mobile first.

With the aim to get every website indexed on mobile first, what will happen if you don’t have a mobile version of your site? Google urges site owners not to stress. If you currently don’t have a mobile version of your site, your desktop site will still be crawled and indexed to appear in the search results. However, they do urge you to think about creating a mobile site that is both easy to use and quick to load for mobile users, and embrace the change that is already happening. 

If you do have both a desktop and mobile version of your site, preparing for the change is key. Google always wants to serve searchers the most relevant and up-to-date information, and if your mobile site does not match the quality content of the desktop version, you stand to lose out when your mobile version becomes indexed first. If your mobile site needs a bit of work, now is the time to look into the fixes. If you aren’t sure whether it needs a bit of work or not, chat to your development team or a knowledgeable consultant who will be able to spot all the fixes for you.

Lastly, Google will not make the change without notification. It is important to note though, that notification occurs after the switch, and not before, making your preparation for the change now so vital. You will be notified in Google Search Console that your site will now be indexed via its mobile version. This basically means that before the change, 80% of your desktop site and 20% of your mobile site was crawled, and after the change, this will flip, with 80% of your mobile site and 20% of your desktop site to be crawled. This makes all content on your mobile site a priority, so that the crawlers are easily able to identify useful snippets of information to help your pages’ seo ranking.

While the change is still in process, it is a part of Google’s aim of providing the right content, to the right people on a platform they prefer, and right now this platform is mobile. 

2020: the year of cross-departmental collaboration

2020: the year of cross-departmental collaboration

Many of today’s successful technology companies like Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon are focused on building collaborative environments. Why? Because of greater productivity and creativity. 

I’ve read somewhere that one of the biggest trends this year and the next in content marketing is more active engagement outside the silo. In an industry that is quickly evolving, this is essential for a culture of continuous improvement. 

Far too many marketing agencies still maintain school playground dynamics; the content producers are huddled in one corner, the PPC’ers in the other, and the Display team somewhere in the middle.  This tribalism can easily result into either a popularity contest about which department is the “cool kids table” or into a sort of communal disinterest in what others are up to. 

This is perhaps unavoidable in large corporates but luckily at TMI, we’ve learned that giving support, input, sharing resources, and approaching others for information has enabled different departments to be creative and solve problems together.  

To quote Rick Bosch, Head of Earned at TMI: “At TMI we have a knowledge sharing culture, meaning we work together, closely. This covers more than just a single department or discipline. Besides working closely across numerous departments, we also work closely with our clients. From hotdesking in their offices, to upskilling internal marketing teams in the latest digital trends and techniques, we don’t keep our knowledge to ourselves, we share it.”

The bar for quality continues to rise as the technology used to create and publish campaigns and content improve. Content marketing, for example, becoming more automated, customised and multichannel. This means that where content producers used to think creatively to produce online material, they might also need an analytical input of the Search and Display specialists to offer value to the target audience. 

 

Here’s a very likely scenario: a new client hires us to execute and manage a PPC campaign for their launch. After two years of a successful PPC partnership, the client upgrades to content as well.  The content team is ready to woo the client with their creativity, and whilst it’s all good to have them let their imaginations run wild, how can they make sure their content addresses the problems, questions and desires of the brand’s target audience? 

The Search and Display specialists have already pinpointed the client’s marketing and advertising needs, which means they have the data to identify content opportunities. 

Each marketing department in the agency has different ways of attracting, engage and convert the client’s customers – and will be able to offer varying insights into the requirements and expectations in terms of the content that will communicate value to the audience. 

The point is, every client success story isn’t credited only to a few rock stars in the agency or a single, best performing team, but on the objectives that align different departments to work together. When we extend involvement on a campaign to more people, we enable clients to tap into a deeper pool of ideas, knowledge and skills. 

Almost like assembling our very own Avengers team of superheroes. 

Google removed 2.3 billion ‘bad’ ads in 2018

Google removed 2.3 billion ‘bad’ ads in 2018

In order to continue its objective of providing a safe digital advertising environment for all involved, Google has stepped up it safety protocols in the last year. After a number of scams reared their nasty heads in 2018, the leading search platform had to make a move to eliminate the risk users were being exposed to on a daily basis. 

The move was two-fold; billions of ads (2.3 billion to be exact), and one million ad accounts found to be ‘bad’ were removed from the platform for violating existing policies, while new policies were created. In total, 31 new policies were formed in response to negative ads relating to third-party technical services, ticket resellers, cryptocurrencies, bail bond payments, and addiction rehabilitation facilities. Accounts may only be granted to organizations that have been certified. To deal specifically with fraudulent rehabilitation centres, Google has partnered up with LegitScript, a verification and monitoring service for online pharmacies.

According to the search giant, “Using improved machine learning technology, we were able to identify and terminate almost one million bad advertiser accounts, nearly double the amount we terminated in 2017. When we take action at the account level, it helps to address the root cause of bad ads and better protect our users.” So while ad removals dropped, ad account removals essentially double in the last year, in an effort to remove the thousands of bad ads that one fraudulent account could create.

In addition to removing negative ads and accounts, Google also removed about 1.2 million pages, 22,000 apps and 15,000 sites who were found to have violated their policies in place to prevent incorrect, hateful and poor quality content. This, as Search Engine Land reports, is a very good thing. While you might not think this type of content may will affect your website’s search marketing efforts, these bad ads, sites and apps can in fact bring down your own campaigns’ performance, and your safety and integrity if your industry or company is in anyway related.

In Google’s report, ‘Enabling a safe digital advertising ecosystem’, they outline a recent removal of what has been cited as one of the biggest fraudulent operations they had ever encountered. Known by its codename ‘3ve’, the operation used fake domains and websites to exploit data centres and infect computers with malware, ultimately extracting large amounts of sensitive data. An average of 10,000 fake domains and more than three million ad bid requests (daily) were found. After passing the case on to the FBI, eight people were charged with numerous crimes including money laundering.

As new scams and fraudulent operations arise, Google is committed to dealing with them to ensure the safety and integrity of all legitimate advertisers on its ad search network. In the end, everyone in the system can be affected, and removing all negative ads and accounts will work in everyone’s favour.